In some late-evening drama, BJP MLA T Raja Singh walked free on bail on Tuesday, August 23, after being arrested earlier in the day for his remarks on Prophet Muhammed.
Judge Kanhaiya Lal of the XIV Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court set Raja Singh free on a bond of ₹10,000.
The MLA’s lawyer Neelam Bhargava Ram told South First that the court rejected remand because the police did not follow due procedure in arresting him.
Ram explained that the court noted that the cops did not fulfil the conditions under Section 41A of the CrPC, under which his client should have been given a notice to appear before the police.
Raja Singh was arrested for the remarks he made in a video posted late on Monday night. The video was taken down by the police after it triggered widespread protests across Hyderabad late on Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
By afternoon on Tuesday, 23 August, there was calm, though an uneasy one, in Hyderabad.
The overnight protests that erupted over the offensive comments by Goshamahal MLA had somewhat subsided with his prompt arrest early in the morning from his home in Mangalhat, although the police presence in the city was palpable.
The BJP suspending its MLA “with immediate effect” and AIMIM leader Asadudding Owaisi appealing for calm — even as he accused the saffron party of deliberately inciting communal passions ahead of the Munugode bypoll — also helped bring temperatures down.
South First reporters who visited several sensitive areas in the city found stray protests and slogan-shouting against the BJP MLA, but came across no instances of violence.
Additional DCP South Zone B Anand told South First in his office in Chatta Bazaar: “There were protests in Dabeerpura and Chandryangutta at night. There were some protests in the morning at Charminar. At this hour (1 pm), there are no protests or tensions in any area of the South Zone.”
“Would I be sitting here chatting with you if there was violence anywhere?” he asked.
By evening, though, shops in several Muslim-dominated areas downed their shutters in protest. South First reporters found shops and business closed in Chatta Bazaar, Laad Bazaar, Gulzar Houz, Panch Mohalla, Kishan Bagh, Nampally market Shahali Banda, and the areas around Charminar. Some shops also sported black flags.
A shopkeeper in Chatta Bazaar said AIMIM workers had come by and asked people to down shutters.
What provoked the protests?
Trouble was sparked by a YouTube video posted by Raja Singh — since taken down by the police — late on Monday which was primarily targeted at stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who had held a show in the city on Saturday.
The video contained offensive remarks against the Prophet, with Raja Singh reportedly claiming Faruqui too habitually made offensive remarks against Hindu gods.
The BJP quickly disassociated itself from Raja Singh’s comments, which were similar to those by former party spokesperson Nupur Sharma. Sharma was removed from her position as party spokesperson after her remarks sparked outrage in several Muslim nations.
BJP spokesperson NV Subhash told South First that the party does not endorse Raja Singh’s comments and they were his personal opinion.
Many complaints against Raja Singh
Many workers and corporators of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM have lodged complaints against the BJP MLA in Dabeerpura, Mangalhat, Mir Chowk, and Bhavani Nagar.
“Singh has been booked under IPC sections 153A (offence on religious grounds), 295A (outrage and insulting religious beliefs), 501 (1) (2) and 506 at the Dabeerpura police station,” SHO Dabeerpura G Koteswar Rao told South First.
Singh was initially lodged in Chanchalguda Central jail in Hyderabad and later produced in the court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
There was a mild baton charge outside the Nampally Criminal Court as the police dispersed people who had gathered to protest. There were no injuries.
Besides using foul language against Faruqui and accusing him of making blasphemous comments against Hindu gods, Raja Singh spoke against members of the community and the Prophet in his now-taken-down video.
Raja Singh had been detained under house arrest a day before Faruqui’s show on Saturday as he had threatened to burn down the sets where he was to perform.
Ironically, Faruqui, known earlier for his sharp political and religious jokes, has been keeping off these subjects after he was arrested and put behind bars in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh in January 2021.
His show in Hyderabad was a tepid affair, limited to jokes about Muslim social issues.
Owaisi’s press conference
AIMIM’s Owaisi was scathing in his criticism of the BJP.
“BJP hates Muslims and Prophet Muhammad. It appears to be the official policy of the BJP. I condemn the dirt that the BJP legislator has blabbered,” he said, adding that his party cadres had been out on the street since 1 am to calm people down and ensure there was no violence.
“What is the BJP gaining from this? Do they want to break the social fabric of the country? BJP doesn’t understand that there are people who believe in different faiths. For Muslims, the Prophet is above everything… if we are Muslim, it is because of him.”
“There has been no communal riot in Telangana in the last eight years. Hyderabad is peaceful and it is seen as a destination for software, pharma and for big companies,” said Oawisi, alleging that tensions were being created ahead of the Munugode bypoll.
Flyover inauguration delayed
One fallout of the tension that prevailed in the early part of the day was the inauguration of the Chandryangutta flyover, scheduled for Tuesday, which was postponed to 27 August.
As the area had witnessed late-night and morning protests, the authorities called off the inauguration ceremony of the 1.07-km flyover.